Fears are growing over the chaos of Covid travel after an analysis leaked warning that there could be four-hour queues at London’s Heathrow Airport this summer.
According to Playbook, Department of Transport modeling has predicted that families with young children will face extreme wait when they return to the UK, due to health checks at the border.
A government source told the Mirror she believed the scan was produced in April.
They pointed out that the system has improved since then – including a dedicated terminal at Heathrow for Red List countries and a pilot program that allows travelers to use electronic passport gates.
But the source added: “There will always be queues at the border.
“We hope it will be as smooth as possible, but we are not going to jeopardize the health of the public or the deployment of the vaccine.
“This is likely to cause queues where people haven’t done the required paperwork and tests, or the carriers haven’t done their job.”
The delays are caused by border force personnel having to process a “passenger tracking form”, which must be completed by all arrivals, even those from Green List countries.
This helps the police to know, for example, whether Amber List arrivals are isolating themselves properly at home.
Heathrow is testing a system in which forms are processed as part of going through an electronic passport gate. The authorities hope to expand the program more widely in the future.
The airport was previously hit with queues of up to six and a half hours.
It comes as the government prepares to put more holiday hot spots on the UK’s green list for travel without quarantine starting Monday.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hopes to announce the changes tomorrow, although most of the European favorites seem poised to stay “orange” for now.
Many countries on the UK’s green list are still not an option for holidays, due to restrictions on Brits on the other end.
But that could change if the UK gives the green light to countries that have opened their doors to British holidaymakers.
It is understood that the government wants to separate the larger island hotspots from their host territories in future updates.
This could mean, for example, that Mallorca obtains Green List status even though mainland Spain is not. Priority will be given to the islands which have the largest share of the UK tourist market.
But the Joint Biosafety Center has not yet informed ministers of its final decisions.
Heathrow Airport yesterday opened a dedicated terminal for arrivals from Red List countries, fearing that passengers from around the world could be stuck for hours at passport control.
Officials have previously warned publicly that there could be long lines at airports this summer.
Border Force Director Paul Lincoln said on May 7 that passengers must accept that there will be increased delays at “every leg” of their journey, with staff required to check “100%” of all travelers passing by.
He said at a No.10 press conference: “At the moment, passengers will have to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey.
“It currently takes five to 10 minutes for a border force officer to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, processing can take 14 or 15 times longer than before, compared to about 25 seconds.
“When people have the wrong papers it can and has taken a lot longer, including when we have to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.”